JOSHUA BUATSI topped Spider Richards to easily become King of South London and move closer to a world title.
Croydon’s 29-year-old ace ousted his nemesis-turned-friend from nearby Crystal Palace in 12 brilliant rounds, with the judges scoring the exquisite action: 116-112, 115-113, 115-113.
Neighborly respect evaporated before the first ring, as a jolt almost went off as Richards, 32, entered the ring.
After losing a coin toss, Buatsi was already sitting in his corner when his nightmare neighbor walked in and hopped against the ropes to get comfortable.
But they crossed paths and Buatsi seemed keen to break the ball early until referee Howard Foster positioned himself perfectly between the imposing and heated figures
Just before the bell, the devout Buatsi bowed in a final prayer, then advanced on Richards with raspy double kicks.
Richards was successful with lightning double wins, but the freshly shaven Buatsi let the shots slide off his face.
Then, right at the end of the round, Buatsi snapped into his Just Business Manta and slammed blue shots into Richards, who was thrown back onto the ropes and fought under fire until the bell saved him.
Richards’ reputation for slow starts was indicative, as he was slapped and wobbled as soon as the second began.
But Spider tangled his opponent in his lanky arms and survived the penalty session, and Buatsi chased him around the O2 ring to exterminate him.
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The exchange in the third was brilliant, Buatsi hooking Richard’s body but then Spider landed a jab right left hook combination.
Buatsi performed a drunken dance, feigning vulnerability while mocking his enemy’s power.
Then right at the bell Richards looked genuinely hurt but another booming Buatsi punch.
A left hook to the temple seemed to buzz Richards early in the fourth round, but his willowy physique was still there, firing straight at the bell as the exciting pair went toe-to-toe, bobbing and weaving as they hurled heavy shots .
Richards had success in the fifth with a long right hand that he pounded into Buatsi’s left ear.
But then JB unleashed a dozen punching combinations that looked like she would get the job done, only for Richards’ excellent defense to ward off the worst of them.
Richards was perhaps enjoying the sixth more than anything before, but a crisp shot resulted in Buatsi throwing up his hands and commanding him, “Come on!”
Buatsi’s US cerebral trainer Virgil Hunter was vocal in the seventh set, telling his man Richard’s eyes were swelling and urging his student to show off his learning.
Ghana-born Buatsi was furious with a couple of accidental low shots on round eight and Spider was warned.
Then Richards had almost won, the same honeyed right hand he kept slapping around Buatsi’s misplaced left glove, blinding the favorite.
Dazed and confused, Buatsi chose the fight to flee and attacked instinctively, showing true courage to survive the greatest scare of his career.
Both men needed time to recover in the ninth from the beatings they dealt and received at gruesome intervals.
Buatsi lost his gumshield in round 10, but Richards nearly lost the fight as the teeth-baring ace rampaged.
Shots rang out from all angles but Richards showed huge heart and steel balls as his impressive defense let him down.
Buatsi took a moment to look at Hunter in the eleventh but couldn’t regain his focus before Richards pinged him with another right hand.
The last lap was great and the partisan crowd jumped up to cheer and thank them for the blood, sweat and bruises they had beaten each other out of.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5393875/joshua-buatsi-beats-craig-richards-king-of-south-london/ Joshua Buatsi beats Craig Richards in an uphill war to become King of South London and get closer to a world title